Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Per Infortunium Definition:

Latin: by misadventure.

Related Terms: Justifiable Homicide, Excusable Homicide

A term used in the ancient common law describe what is now known as a form of excusable homicide; that which occurs by misadventure; by accident (the other being the death of another caused in self-defence).

Some examples of judicial usage:

  • "A homicide committed per infortunium, i.e., accidentally, is legally excusable."1
  • "A justifiable homicide is one committed either by command of, or at least with the permission of, the law, e.g., execution of a convicted criminal, apprehension of an escaping felon, etc. An excusable homicide is one committed either per infortunium (i.e., accidentally) or se defendendo (i.e., in self-defense)."2
  • "If one shoot at any wild fowle upon a tree, and the arrow killeth any reasonable creature afar off, without any evill intent in him, this is per infortunium [misadventure]: for it was not unlawful to shoot at the wilde fowle: but if he had shot at a cock or hen, or any tame fowle of another mans, and the arrow by mischance had killed a man, this had been murder, for the act was unlawfull."3


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